Planning the new garden

Think about what you would like from your garden.

  • Is it to be formal or informal.
  • Low maintenance.
  • To attract butterflies, birds, bees and other animals.
  • Utilitarian to withstand the rigours of children and animals.
  • Would you like to grow your own fruit and vegetables.
  • Patio and barbecue area.
  • Would you like a play area for children / grandchildren.

The size and shape of your garden will dictate to some extent what you can do with it. If your garden is on a slope then divide it into smaller 'rooms' with terracing. Try to keep the size of lawns, paths and borders in proportion with each other. If you have a busy road, an unsightly building or want some privacy in your garden then include a hedge (or fence and trellis with climbers growing over it) in your design, this will deaden any noise and act as a screen. Running water can also mask road noise, so think about including a water feature.

Keep it simple

Keep your garden design simple, the more complicated your design, the more time you will have to spend on maintenance. Large borders will take more plants to fill it, thus increasing the amount of effort that you will have to put in to keep it looking good. Placing garden furniture, ponds and borders in the middle of a lawn will slow down lawn mowing.

Base your garden design on who and when people are going to use it. If you sit in the garden eating your breakfast or reading the morning papers then a nice sitting area in the morning sun would be preferable to sitting in the shade, similarly if you have barbecues or parties in the evening, plan your patio to catch the evening sun. If you have young children then don't include a pond in your design, Children are drawn to water like a magnet, and you will be forever worrying about what they are up to. Children's play areas should be in a position where you can see what they are doing.

Ensure that your patio or seating area is large enough to incorporate garden furniture, barbecue, garden lounger, patio planters etc.

Greenhouses should be positioned in a sunny position. Remember that the greenhouse will cast a shadow, so should be positioned away or behind (in relation to the sun) from the patio or sitting area.

Ponds should be placed in a sheltered, sunny position, away (15ft or more) from overhanging trees. Make sure that this area is not a frost pocket. The shape of your pond should reflect the style of your garden design. A square, rectangular or circular pool in a formal garden, pond shape is less important in an informal garden.

Look at books and magazines and tear out or highlight those gardens that you like and try to work out why they appeal to you. Visit local established gardens to get design ideas on style, structure and form, and visit garden centres and nurseries to get ideas about plants (shape, height, colour, soil type, shade or sun loving, price etc.).

Deceiving the eye >>

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